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Covid in Occitanie

There is plenty of Covid now in le Vigan, said Colette, violinist at our orchestra rehearsal on Saturday. She knows because she is a nurse performing vaccinations and Covid tests in the centre of town.

We know because at least one teacher in the Ecole de Musique is off with Covid. My fellow cellist, Nathalie, and I were shocked at the absence of masks amongst the audience at the wind section ‘audition’ just before ours last month – and the lack of aeration of the room before our session. It is true we took our masks off when we actually played – I find it impossible to read the music with my glasses steaming up – but we were punctilious about putting them back on afterwards.

My cleaning lady, Edith, came back after Covid just before Christmas. She had been afraid of the jab rather than being against it. Now she is definitely for it and asking when she is eligible for her first jab. Not the case, I fear with the solid group of anti or vaccine sceptics round here.

I bumped into one at market last week. I told her I was standing well away as her mask was drooping down below her mouth – and yes, she has not been vaccinated. She regards herself as immune from most ailments because she lives and works high up on les Causses. “Je suis clean” she said. But she added that she might get vaccinated once the French vaccine which does not contain mRNA was available. It was not worth pointing out to her that this was true of Astra Zeneca also as I would no doubt have been treated with a lecture on the dangers of thrombosis.

Then yesterday, nearer home I stopped to say hello to another friend, who offered me a lift to le Vigan on Sunday when I take the bus to Montpellier. Thanks, but sorry, I said, I can’t accept this as you are not vaccinated. “Oh,” she said’ ” you still believe in that stuff?” A 30-year friendship is diminished: we are opposite sides of the barrier.

We are now part of the region of Occitanie, a large chunk of the south of France:

The latest health figures for Occitanie are that 94% of the intensive beds are occupied and of these over half are covid cases – and of these 85% are non-vaccinated. How can all my old friends ignore these statistics (or mistrust them)?

This is the Guardian’s report of what Macron said last week:

“France has vaccinated almost 90% of its population who are eligible, Macron said, and it was “only a very small minority who are resisting. How do we reduce that minority? We reduce it – sorry for the expression – by pissing them off even more.”

I think his words were unwise, but oh how I sympathise with his frustration (and yes, his draconian pass laws forced vast quantities of French to rush and get jabbed last year). He did add:

“When my freedoms threaten those of others, I become someone irresponsible. Someone irresponsible is not a citizen.”

From this Saturday under the new law you will need your Covid Pass for entry to bars, restaurants, theatres or public transport, and a negative Covid test will no longer be accepted as an alternative.

It remains to be seen whether this will operate in le Vigan. Once the tourists left after summer, the police have been noticeably absent from checking what local bars do. The one I frequent asks neither for Pass nor Covid test result. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a demonstration at the market on Saturday.

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